Crime

Jury delivers $7 million verdict in wreck involving Golden Donut worker

A Columbus jury delivered a $7 million award Tuesday in a lawsuit stemming from a 2012 wrecking involving a Golden Donut worker and a medical van taking a kidney patient to dialysis.

The two parties afterward reached a lower settlement that precluded a subsequent trial on punitive damages. The settlement will allow plaintiff Joyce Bigmall to more quickly collect compensation for medical expenses and pain and suffering, said her attorney, Christopher Breault.

The case centered on an April 20, 2012, collision in front of the 4916 River Road Piggly Wiggly, where Golden Donut Enterprises employee Perry Solomon, driving a 1996 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup belonging to company co-owner Don Baker, pulled out in front of the northbound van, according to evidence.

The 2001 Dodge van, traveling in River Road’s left lane, collided with the left front of the pickup before the van spun and flipped onto its side. Solomon was pinned in the truck with an open fracture of his left arm. Bigmall was trapped in the van with four broken ribs and her hair snagged in a seat belt.

As the van was smoking and leaking fluids, Lonnie Grimes, then a Columbus police officer, climbed through a porthole in the roof and cut Bigmall’s hair free before emergency workers pried open the vehicle’s rear doors and used a backboard to get her out, Breault said.

She later contracted pneumonia and had wrist surgery, spending a month in a wheelchair in rehabilitation. Her healing from the injuries was impeded by the renal failure she already suffered, the attorney said.

“She had a hard time walking after this,” he said.

Bigmall, 62, has survived her kidney failure a year longer than doctors expected her to, he said.

Her medical expenses likely totaled around $100,000, though just $49,000 of that was in evidence, he said. The jury awarded her that amount in “special damages” along with the compensation for pain and suffering, he said.

Attorneys representing Perry and Golden Donut offered no comment on the case.

Court records show Solomon claimed he was stopped in the road’s center turn lane when the van hit him, but police cited him for failing to yield the right of way.

Perry had worked for the company since 2003, but he was a “doughnut roller” and a maintenance worker, not a deliveryman, his employer said. He had gone to the Piggly Wiggly from the 625 Manchester Expressway company a few blocks away to get a propane tank, and was returning when the wreck occurred.

State Court Judge Ben Richardson heard the case, which had a voluminous file of motions and counter-motions.

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